Surviving this week: July 15-21, 2012

Resistance is futile.

I had this idea last week to do a weekly blog post about some issue related to being a cancer survivor. As someone trying to find something better to talk about than stupid cancer, the weekly post will give me a chance to share what’s new or what’s bugging me and frees up the rest of my week for more delightful pursuits, like refashioning and painting furniture! This is my second week! Yay! Don’t get too attached to these posts, though, I’m totally unreliable with ideas like this. 🙂

A few months ago at my doctor’s office, the receptionist cornered me into accepting a login into the new system the network has for tracking all of your medical information. It sounded awesome, although she didn’t leave me any room to choose.

Receptionist: “By the way, they want all patients to get a login to access your medical data. Would you like to go ahead and do that today?”

Me, pausing because I suddenly am really worried about patients who don’t have Internet access, when all I really came here to do was get a diagnosis: “Um, yeah, ok. What is it again?”

Receptionist: “It’s a login to the portal where you can get appointment information, get your test results and access your records.”

Me: “Ok, yeah, cool. Let’s do it.”

Two minutes later, she hands me a piece of paper with a username on it that is nothing I ever would have chosen and I will never remember and a random string of numbers and letters for a password, handwritten.

Me: “Oh, can I change this?”

Receptionist: “Yeah, you just login and then you can change your  password.”

Me: “No, my username. I will never remember this username.”

Receptionist: “No. We can’t change that.”

I walk out, a bit discouraged at the potential usefulness of this portal. I decided to take time as soon as I got to my car to login and reset the password, so that at least I could remember it. In about 38 seconds, I had attempted to login three times and got locked out.

For the love of …

I give up and try again hours later: still locked out. And receive this extremely useful message:

Please contact your doctor’s office to reset your password.

You have got to be kidding me. You mean, the super helpful place that is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which happens to be some of the hours I’m working (I work MORE than that, you know, like 99% of the freaking country), and keeps their phones turned off during their 90-minute lunch hour, all Wednesday afternoons and promptly at quitting time? THAT doctor’s office?

Days go by. I finally happen to remember I needed that reset during a teeny, tiny window of time when I could call them. The receptionist says, “No problem, it happens all of the time.” Of course, I miss the first time she gives me my new password, as I’m wondering how in the HELL she has time to do web portal password support when they never have the poopety-pooping time to call me back when I need to talk to someone.

Finally, I get the password and I try it again. Nope. I call the receptionist back. She sounds delighted to hear from me.

“Ma’am, you have to wait 1/2 hour before you login.”

Lord, help the person who designed this system because if I ever run into him at Gencon (because, let’s face it, we all know it’s a “him” and he spends his weekends playing D&D), I’m going to shove his 20-sided die up his nostril.

Naturally, I forget about logging in until two days later when, of course, I’ve lost the new password. The receptionist recognizes my voice. I’m pretty sure she had my password written down and posted on her computer.

I try again. Success! I look around. The portal is not nearly as exciting as I had hoped. What a letdown. Personally, I was hoping for a WebMD sort of database of ailments, so I could just self-diagnosed based on a cross-reference of my records. Was that too much to ask?

In about a minute, I determine I’ll likely never login again, but I do take the time to change the password to something more useful and make sure my email address is correct.

A few weeks go by, then I get an email, “Your test results are waiting in your medical portal.”

WHAT THE POOP!?!?!?! You expect me to actually use that thing?

I sigh and follow the login link, which is nothing but a damn blank login page. In other words, it does not pre-populate my username, which I, as predicted, have forgotten. Three login attempts later, I’m locked out and I’m vowing to crush the a-hole portal geek’s Star Trek collection.

The receptionist’s sighs are heavy and I take just a small moment to remind her this was all her idea.

Determined, I set a 45 minute alarm on my phone, as she had to reset my password in order to give me my username and, don’t forget, you can’t login for the next 30 minutes. I get logged in. Change my password (and, I will note, it allowed me to reuse the one I’d used before. Some security system ya got there, gamer geek.) and learn that my test was normal. That’s all.

This time, I take a moment to insecurely log my username and password in an email to myself clearly marked as being for this portal. It’s a trick I use for tracking lesser usernames and passwords. I can always search my email for the key info I remember and it will pull up that email for me. It’s either that or get the receptionist’s home number and she was less-than-willing to provide this information.

Naturally, a few weeks go by and I get another test result I need to check. I head straight to my email to look up the login details I’d smartly saved. However, I’m using the app on my phone, which doesn’t allow you to search the text of the email and I can’t find it.

Someone please give me a cocktail.

I login through a web browser, where I could search the text of the email, and since I was in a parking lot and not on WiFi, it takes FOR-FREAKING-EVAH, but I finally find it and login.

This time, it’s normal, but it’s a test that, on paper, I would get far more details about. Details like where they looked and what they did see, even if what they saw was just normal. Not on the fancy-schmancy web portal! Nope, here I get “normal” and “see your doctor for details.”

Thanks. That was MORE work and LESS information than if you had called me.

I’m so over this stupid portal when I get an email with the subject line: (portal name) doctor’s appointment reminder!

Oh, cool, I think. I didn’t even remember I had a doctor’s appointment! I open the email fully expecting to see the doctor’s name (because it could have been any of a number of doctor’s in this network) and the day and time of my appointment in this email. I’m going to put this in my calendar right now! Instead, I’m greeted with:

Please login to the portal to see your appointment details.

No. Are you serious? No.

I’m now turning the names of local technical colleges into curse words and vowing to stage a sit-in at my health network until someone gives up the name of this programmer because when I find him, he’s a dead man.

Why must my appointment details be hidden behind a username and password? Why must it be so difficult to login, when I can call a random receptionist and get my username and password read to me over the phone? Why is it so unreasonably difficult that someone with YEARS of technical know-how can’t get into her account two times in a row and has to continue to pester a receptionist whose phone is ringing off the hook with people who need appointments and who need information because they don’t have access to the Internet? Difficult, yet, at the same time, doesn’t follow some basic security procedures?

It try to login. I completely mis-type something. I lose track of whether I made 2 or 3 attempts and lock myself out.

I wish I were kidding.

Author: rosie

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  1. OMG Rosie, I would so love to email this to my doctor through her portal, because I am POSITIVE she must be using the same stupid system; but I can’t seem to get into mine either and it would also require a call to our receptionist who, like yours, is sick of hearing from me. I think maybe I’ll just print a copy and give it to her next time I am ill. Well done!! You naile it!

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  2. Know what I kept thinking throughout this post? I wonder if that receptionist has her own blog – it’d be pretty funny to read her take on this.

    Sorry it was such a hassle, the last thing you need.

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  3. That is hilarious to think of the receptionist keeping her own blog! hahaha. If I find it someday, I will totally link to it.

    Update on this: my kiddo got a new pediatrician in this network and when they offered to set her up for a portal account I screamed NO!!!! and started throwing computer parts at them.

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